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Hundreds of stillbirths wrongly certified as 'unexplained'

More than 80% of UK medical certificates recording stillbirths contain errors, research reveals.

More than half the inaccurate certificates contained a significant error that could cause medical staff to misinterpret what had happened.

The study, published in the International Journal of Epidemiology, also shows that three out of four stillbirths certified as having an "unknown cause of death" could, in fact, be explained.

A team from the Universities of Edinburgh and Manchester examined more than 1,120 medical certificates of stillbirths, which were issued at 76 UK obstetric units in 2018. 

Of the 421 which were resolved, 195 were re-designated as foetal growth restriction (FGR), and 184 as placental insufficiency.

Dr Michael Rimmer, clinical research fellow at Edinburgh University’s MRC Centre for Reproductive Health, said: “This study shows some medical certificates of stillbirths contain significant errors.

"Reducing these errors and accurately recording contributing factors to a stillbirth is important in shaping research and health policies aimed at reducing the number of stillbirths.

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Source: The Herald, 21 June 2022


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